Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Actor's Studio, lesson 4 - Pallas body rig

Pallas humanIK rig
Pallas' next step was rigging.

Rigging is the process of attaching deformers to an otherwise rigid model. CGI character deformers are simply the digital counterpart of a puppet's armature: a marrionette's wood rig, a stop-motion character's metal rig, a Muppet operator's hand. Without a rig, these digital and cloth characters are inert.

I'm using Autodesk's humanIK auto-rig. One of its advantages is that it can easily be plugged into motion capture (mocap) data. That is, a real actor's movements are captured on a computer and transferred to an animated character. Mocap replaces an animation technique called rotoscoping, which was first utilized a hundred years ago and is only rarely used today.

For the video below, I plugged some stock mocap data into my Pallas character to see how she'd handle it. These quick animation tests are a good opportunity to detect problems with the model, texture colors, bone placement, and skinning. This video isn't a cinematic-quality rendering, just a quick screen-capture of the modeling space.

to watch in high-definition, view on Vimeo

These mocap files only hold limb, torso, and head animation. If an animator wants the fingers and face to move, he has to add that separately. Consequently, Pallas' face and fingers are stiff throughout this test video. I didn't spend any time correcting the raw mocap data, so - if you look closely - you'll see there are some strange positions throughout: legs penetrating torsos, arms penetrating each other, clavicles not rising with the humerus, etc.

This isn't a project about practicing dynamics, so there will be no dynamic clothing or dynamic hair on this character, or not at this early stage.

next: keyframe animation
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